Yesterday afternoon Cody Glass tried going through the same routine he always does on game day. On the day of his first career NHL game though, one particular piece of that routine was going to be tough.
After Morning Skate: I usually pregame nap, so that’ll probably be a little bit hard this afternoon. I’m just very excited. -Glass
After the game: Terrible. I couldn’t sleep. It was one of those sleeps where my eyes were closed but I still still wide awake.
Not only was Glass getting ready to play his first NHL game, he was set to become the first draft pick in Golden Knights history to suit up in a game, and to raise the stakes, his name was listed on the lineup card in between Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty as the 2nd line center.
It was a hell of an ask for a 20-year-old rookie who doesn’t even have a fraction of a professional season under his belt. There’s a ton of responsibility that comes with playing up the lineup with incredibly high-end talents like Stone and Pacioretty, and it takes a lot of confidence in a coach to make the call to put him there, especially on opening night against the team’s fiercest rival.
After one game, it was a rousing success.
Glass saw nearly 10 minutes of even-strength ice time with Stone and Pacioretty and didn’t share the ice with any other line for a full shift at any time during the game. Aside from a few defensive zone draws (literally one or two) that were taken by Paul Stastny, Glass centered the 2nd line the entire night posting a goal and not allowing one themselves.
Whenever that kid goes out on the ice he just goes out there, sees a play and makes it. You don’t see too many young guys with that mentality. I’ve never seen one to be honest and that’s what makes him so special and while he’ll keep improving. -Pacioretty
Even more impressive were the matchups Glass had to take on. The Golden Knights line of Glass, Stone, and Pacioretty played more than 90% of their shifts against the Sharks 2nd and 3rd lines. That means Glass spent almost his entire night up against Golden Knights killer Tomas Hertl and
78-year veteran Joe Thornton.
Glass and Co. didn’t allow a single scoring chance to the Sharks 2nd line of Hertl, Lukas Radil and Lean Bergmann in nearly five minutes of even-strength time. They weren’t quite as good in the advanced stats department against Thornton, Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen, but they were on the ice when Glass found the back of the net for his first career goal.
Then there’s the faceoff circle, an easy place to lose the trust of your head coach and find yourself on the bench to start shifts with your linemates.
I think he was 5 and 1 in his faceoffs in the first period which is outstanding against this San Jose team. -Gallant
He actually went 3-2 in the 1st period, but the fact that he won enough to earn the immediate respect of Gallant was a huge reason he never skated with anyone else. All in all, Glass was 5 of 10 from the circle including winning 57% of his defensive zone draws.
To put it simply, Glass belonged on the 2nd line, and Gallant left him there all night. That bodes incredibly well for this team in the long run. If Glass plays with Stone and Pacioretty, Stastny can anchor a 3rd line of Zykov and Pirri, and eventually Tuch and/or Eakin. Glass’s ability to hold his own in the top-six balances the Golden Knights lineup and makes them a nightmare to play against.
But that was a home game, where Gallant has the ability to make the last change. Things shift as the Golden Knights head on the road to San Jose. You can expect Pete Deboer to try and find some matchups that make life a little more difficult on Glass at the SAP Center.
But if he doesn’t, or if it doesn’t work, his team is going to find itself in a 0-2 hole awfully quickly.